Home | Join/Donate | Current Voices | Liturgical Calendar | What's New | Affirmation | James Hitchcock's Column | Church Documents | Search
Voices Online Edition
Pentecost 2001 --- Volume XVI No. 2
United Nations World Summit for Children
- a Threat to Families?
by Mary Jo Anderson
Under the cloak "child rights" could the world's children soon have international legal claims to privacy, freedom of association and freedom to information and counseling without parental knowledge? Pro-family advocates point out that a growing movement to make children autonomous posits these "rights" in direct opposition to parental rights and responsibilities.
The United Nations General Assembly will call heads of state to New York City in September for Special Session on the World Summit for Children. A final preparatory meeting in June is working to finalize the document, which will be presented to the Special Session. The Summit is billed as "an unprecedented meeting of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the children and adolescents of the world". Participants will include governmental leaders, policy specialists, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), "children's advocates" and a host of pre-selected youth members of various international NGOs.
A United Nations press release boasts, "the gathering will present a great opportunity to change the way the world views and treats children".
Precisely, say scores of family advocates and conservative NGOs who view that change in the "way the world views and treats children" as a grave threat to families, children and national sovereignty. The change sought by international elites, global governance gurus and radical NGOs seeks to recreate the child as a free-standing bearer of "rights" that heretofore were held for him under the guardianship of his parents until the child reached adulthood. The legal standing thus granted the child - defined as 0-18 years by the World Health Organization - demands that the child be "treated differently" in relationship to his family and government. In short, the outcome of this Summit may set the stage for a new model for families and nations as each exercises their responsibilities toward the child.
A critical thrust of the Summit preparations is to convince nations to adopt the Convention on the Rights of the Child treaty as the foundational framework for the Summit's own document. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is controversial in US foreign relations because, with the exception of Somalia, the United States is the only other nation that has not ratified the CRC, in 1989. It was signed by Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, on February 16, 1995. Yet, under the leadership of Senator Jesse Helms, (R-NC) the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the United States Congress has refused to consider the Convention on the Rights of the Child. American family advocates and several members of congress view the CRC as one would view a scorpion advancing toward an infant.
Nonetheless, UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), which serves as the Substantive Secretariat for the World Summit for Children, is charged with "encouraging governments and other partners to link the [Summit] review process with the reporting processes of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)". (WFF's May 25, 2000 statement on CEDAW, published in Voices Summer 2000, appears on our web site under Statements.)
Conservative veterans of United Nations conferences, particularly those who attended the Cairo and Beijing conferences, have come to distrust declarations and treaties that are produced in these world conferences. A systematic deconstruction of the role of women, family and nation has been the hallmark of the UN conferences for more than a decade.
Catholic scholar Patrick F. Fagan of the Heritage Foundation released a paper detailing this assault in February of this year. "How U.N. Conventions on Women's and Children's Rights Undermine the Family, Religion, and Sovereignty" opens with this salvo:
Few Americans are aware that agencies within the United Nations system are involved in a campaign to undermine the foundations of society - the two-parent married family, religions that espouse the primary importance of marriage and traditional sexual morality, and the legal and social structures that protect these institutions. Using the political cover of international treaties that promote women's and children's rights, the social policy sector of the United Nations - specifically, committees that oversee implementation of U.N. treaties in social policy areas and the special-interest groups assisting them - is urging countries to change their domestic laws and national constitutions to adopt policies that ultimately will affect women and children adversely.
So-called "moderates" often are tempted to dismiss these conference agreements as "non-binding" on the member nations. The danger of these UN declarations and treaties, however, cannot be minimized, because the provisions agreed upon in an international body become part of "customary law" that then is subsequently codified in international law. The goal for radical proponents of "child rights" is to move these provisions into the category of "international human rights" that will supersede national laws. That goal benefits the radical internationalists in two ways: it places the next generation's welfare under the control of a world body rather than a nation state, and it serves to advance the growth of a global government.
To understand how issues as precious as children, family and sovereignty can be under attack by the very forum instituted to protect them, it is necessary to examine both the philosophical and political shift that has occurred in the past half century as well as the process by which these declarations and treaties are crafted. The process illuminates the struggle ahead for pro-family organizations that hope to blunt the effect of the World Summit for Children in September.
World Summit "Prepcoms" Agent of a Radical Change
The first World Summit for Children was held months after the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted. That 1990 Summit issued its document, "World Declaration and Plan of Action on Survival, Protection and Development of Children". The upcoming Summit will replace that document with the new document now under negotiation.
Preparatory committee meetings (prepcom) are held in several successive sessions prior to the conference itself. The prepcoms are assigned to draft a document that is negotiated by delegates on behalf of their nations. Presumably, each nation sends representatives fully conversant in that government's goals and objectives. The first meeting reviews the rough draft of the document as prepared by a bureau committee that is drawn from several nations. The full body of delegates then negotiates this rough draft. Phrases and terminology are often hotly contested. At the UN, votes are rarely taken and documents are negotiated by consensus. Consensus building, then, becomes crucial, and various blocks of nations form alliances for the tactical purpose of securing certain provisions and language in the documents.
The first round of discussion on the draft document, "A World Fit for Children", was in February. The Bush administration had just come into office, and no new UN ambassador had been appointed. The prepcom was anxious to hear the US delegation's statement on the proposed draft. This statement would indicate whether the US, as it had under Clinton, would continue to promote a liberal revisionist view of sexuality, family and women's rights.
Opponents of the effort to legalize the provisions of a "children's liberation movement" had warned that while the language of the draft was properly laden with concern for children suffering the horrors of war, slavery and prostitution, the substance represented a radical break from the foundations of traditional family law.
Pro-family groups are fearful that the UN Special Session might adopt new international measures that could threaten parental rights and give sweeping new rights to adolescents - rights to reading material of their choice, rights to unsupervised contraceptive and abortion access, rights to assembly - without the safeguard of parental guidance.
Numerous groups had quietly submitted their reservations to incoming Bush administration officials. The remaining career diplomats at the US mission to the UN were "holding the fort" until new Bush appointments could be made.
Tension among pro-family groups had heightened in the weeks leading up to the second preparatory meeting. Would Clinton holdovers advance the cause of the liberal agenda promoted by the alliance known as "JUSCANZ" (Japan, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) in league with the European Union? Would President Bush honor his election platform that promised to limit certain UN intrusions?
Pro-family groups and delegates from several nations observed that if the Convention on the Rights of the Child was accepted as the framework for this new document, then according to Article 13 of the CRC, a child would have rights to media of the child's choice: books, videos, the Internet. A South American delegate commented, "Article 13 means that as father I can't screen my daughter's consumption on the Internet? What if my 12-year-old son wants to collect Internet pornography?"
Ambassador E. Michael Southwick, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, read the US statement to a packed assembly. Bush clearly signaled a new direction in US policy: the statement called for greater "parental authority" when crafting policy on children.
There were shocked delegates from the European Union (EU) and Canada, who were accustomed to the Clinton aversion to parental rights. Yet, a greater shock followed. The crux of the battle before family advocates was put clearly to the assembly and is worth quoting in depth:
Finally, I would like to say a few words about the many references to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments in the current text. States may be encouraged to consider ratification of these instruments, but it is wrong to assert an obligation to ratify them. We also believe it is misleading and inappropriate to use the Convention as a litmus test to measure a nation's commitment to children. As a non-party to the Convention, the United States does not accept obligations based on it, nor do we accept that it is the best or only framework for developing programs and policies to benefit children.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child may be a positive tool in promoting child welfare for those countries that have adopted it. But we believe the text goes too far when it asserts entitlements based on the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the Convention and other instruments. The human rights-based approach, while laudable in its objectives, poses significant problems as used in this text.
Bearing these comments in mind, and those of other delegations as well, we would ask the Bureau, or perhaps an expanded group based on the Bureau, to prepare a new, shorter draft that can form the basis for detailed negotiation during the next session of the Preparatory Committee.
The United States looks forward to participating in not only the Special Session itself, but also in the process of preparing for that meeting. We should not exaggerate or distort differences at the Prepcom or the upcoming Special Session. The world's children deserve better. There is so much work to be done upon which we can all agree. We regard this Special Session, as well as the debates and negotiations leading up to it, as central to developing a clear and realistic plan of action for addressing the problems faced by our children.
Observers in the gallery broke out in cheers after the ambassador concluded his presentation. The statement referred to the "erosion of parental authority" and suggested that nations be invited to develop objectives pertinent to "their own goals and in line with conditions and circumstances in their own countries".
Other popular points for those who welcomed the US statement were the calls for monitoring to be done at the national level rather than through the roving UN teams that have recently raised eyebrows.
The CRC monitoring committee, for example, excoriated the United Kingdom for allowing parents to remove their children from sex-education classes with objectionable content [CRC Committee, 8th Session]. Because the US has not ratified the CRC, such monitoring teams have not assessed the US progress on implementation of the provisions of the treaty.
A litmus test?
The draft document that delegates had been discussing throughout the week made frequent reference to the CRC, but the US statement was careful to distinguish between the CRC and the "Plan of Action" that was the result of the 1990 World Summit for Children.
In the US many legal experts question the treaty's intrusiveness into domestic policy. Certain CRC activists claim the failure to ratify a Convention that most countries accepted is a diplomatic and political embarrassment for Americans. The US delegation, however, under the Bush administration, rejected attempts to make the CRC the "litmus test to measure a nation's commitment to children".
Conversely, the European Union had adopted the opposite stance. Earlier, Ambassador Thomas Hammarberg, the head of Swedish delegation, spoke on behalf of the European Union and 13 other nations aligned with the EU's statement to the assembly. "In our opinion the rights-based approach should be the lead theme throughout the text", Hammarberg said, adding that "the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the overarching objective".
The Holy See, the Vatican's observer mission to the UN, delivered its own statement, stressing that rights of the child must be seen in the context of the family. It becomes painfully apparent, then, that working out a compromise at the June 11-15 prepcom will come at a high cost to all parties.
The last several years have seen an increasing dissatisfaction with the prepcom process. The June prepcom is the final official opportunity for delegates to work out a "consensus" document based on the input from governments, NGOs and policy specialists. The level of acrimony has risen of late, due in large measure to the addition of pro-family NGOs who now participate in the UN conferences and prepcoms.
(Women for Faith and Family is now an accredited NGO at the UN, and we hope to be represented at the Summit.)
The NGOs who champion a feminist agenda (a modern confluence of social Darwinism and Marxism) once dominated the field. The growing knowledge and sophisticated defenses employed by the pro-family organizations have been effective in combating attempts to create a secularized, utilitarian "global ethical order".
In one radical manual, Educating for the New World Order, the author stresses the need to achieve the appearance of group or community participation in decision making processes, giving the illusion of "consensus" while in reality there is a predetermined conclusion toward which the facilitator guides the group. Pro-family delegates and NGO representatives to various UN conferences have learned to identify this tactic, known as the "Delphi technique". This manipulation allows the leader - ostensibly a neutral voice - to telescope conflicting ideas into a limited time frame for discussion and leave the room with a "consensus" that the leader takes back to the main committee as an agreement among the parties.
Hence the UN describes the documents, negotiated in the prepcoms and later issued to the world at large, as "the will of the people". In this manner, such documents are then viewed by legal experts to be the "customary law" that "the people" in many nations have accepted as a common ethical norm. Should the World Summit for Children establish norms that children are to be guaranteed certain disputed "rights" separate from the context of the child as a responsibility of his parents, those rights would be on the fast track to become part of international law.
The final step is when these norms become part of international law, or even enshrined as "international human rights". Once a norm is accepted by the legal machinery as a "human right", the full force of international law can be brought to bear against those who violate that "right".
Who shall define "human rights" for this planet? The stunning ejection of the US from the UN's Human Rights Commission in May makes clear that some nations no longer share the same conception of "human rights" that Americans have taken for granted. In the wake of that diplomatic backhand slap, several commentators, including former US Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, said that there has been a mounting resentment in Europe during the last decade that the United States should not be automatically entitled to UN leadership positions. The gulf between contemporary understanding of "human rights" is widening between the traditional family defenders and the techno-barbarians.
The battle then is to contain or even turn back the massive assault on the traditional family, the role of women, and national sovereignty that globocrats have made in the last decade. The war is fought over world views that are utterly opposed.
The Stakes: Disputed "Rights" of the Child
While it remains to be seen whether the Convention on the Rights of the Child will be adopted as the framework for the Upcoming World Summit for Children in September, it is certain that the provisions of the CRC will be tirelessly pushed in multiple formats in every conceivable arena: legal, cultural, social, educational and medical.
This is so because every other nation, save Somalia and the US, has ratified the Convention. Ratification requires that nations adjust their domestic laws and policies to reflect the treaty's provisions. Additionally, article 43 of the CRC requires that states parties submit to the authority of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, created "for the purpose of examining the progress made by States Parties [nations] in achieving the realization of the obligations undertaken in the present Convention".
Furthermore, UNICEF has assembled a public relations machine to push for the full implementation of the CRC worldwide. In a campaign partnership with UNICEF are Save the Children Alliance, World Vision International, and Plan International (PLAN), who are the "Rallying Call for the Global Movement for Children".
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Space precludes a full analysis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but key articles of the Convention serve to illustrate the danger that pro-family groups find most objectionable.
First, however, it is right and fair to point out that there are grievous difficulties for millions of children, and the family of nations does have an obligation to address these challenges. The Convention does attempt to address the ugly list of abuses that millions of youngsters face daily, from simple malnutrition and unsanitary living conditions to the terror of war, slavery and sexual exploitation.
In the mid-ground there are issues of child labor, educational deficits and lack of opportunities for the girl child and the disabled child. The dispute over the CRC does not concern whether these obstacles to healthy childhood development should be addressed, but rather whether the CRC is the only or proper instrument for doing so effectively. The CRC is too broad, say family activists, and can be used punitively against families while setting a child apart as a free standing unit before he is capable of discern what is in his best interests.
Others point out that the language of the CRC "gives with one hand and takes away with the other". This observation is a reference to the statement in the Convention that acknowledges the responsibilities of the family, yet that right and duty is negated in many of the specific articles of the CRC.
Article 3 places the child under the protection of the States Parties, taking "into account the rights and duties" of the parents. But it is States Parties that shall ensure the well being of the child. To that end, this early article also covers competent "institutions services and facilities" for the proper care of children.
Article 4 requires states to implement the CRC according to CRC guidelines - these guidelines are not always in concert with a nation's religious or cultural heritage.
According to Pat Fagan of the Heritage Foundation, the "UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends to the Japanese government that it 'guarantee the child's right to privacy, especially in the family'. Such a measure would establish legal and structural wedges between parents and their children in the home. Normally, when children rebel against their parents, society frowns. Yet the UN is attempting to put in place, in policy and law, structures that foster this type of rebellion".
Article 5 requires that States respect the "rights and duties of the parents in manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child". Here is a signature example to giving and taking away in one article. Who is to determine the measurement of the "evolving capacities of the child"?
A video produced by PLAN in cooperation with UNICEF, and shown in El Salvador, features youngsters attacking their parents for failure to permit them to participate in decision-making. "Parents are the principal violators of our rights", they shout. The video actors demand that the international community defend their rights.
Article 9 contains the fuzzy phrase, "best interests of the child" when determining conditions for separating children from parents.
Article 12 assures the child a right to form his own views and to "express those views freely in all matters affecting the child". It was this article that the CRC Committee cited in its rebuke of the United Kingdom for allowing parents to remove their children from sex education classes.
Article 13 says that "The Child shall have the right to freedom of expression: this shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers in any 'media of the child's choice'". This provision was singled out by delegates as permission for children to receive and transmit pornography is they should choose to do so. Pat Fagan reports, "the author [Fagan] has been told that in Montgomery County, Maryland, public libraries are not allowed to use such filters on the computers in the children's section because doing so would infringe on the rights of children".
Article 14 grants the child the freedom to manifest his "religion or beliefs" subject to limitations set by law.
This grants to teenagers enthralled with wicca a "right" to "manifest" and "express" their beliefs with no restriction applied in US law, since even the US army has permitted wicca on its bases. A parent would be helpless to protest as the child could simply invoke his international right guaranteed under the CRC.
As Patrick Fagan notes, once "rights" are "embedded in domestic law, children could easily gain access to legal help from NGOs or government agencies to challenge their parents in court". Such an "independent child-friendly mechanism" that enables a child "to deal with complaints of violations of their rights and to provide remedies for such violations" was recommended in Belize. (CRC Committee, 20th session)
Again, Fagan's analysis throws light on the intent of the international elites who have planned to reconfigure the globe according to their worldview,
Its [CRC Committee] report asserts that it is "concerned that the law does not allow children, particularly adolescents, to seek medical or legal counseling without parental consent, even when it is in the best interests of the child". This statement illustrates the committee's intent to undermine the authority of parents, especially those who hold traditional religious beliefs or who would disagree with the committee's radical interpretation of the CRC.
Article 15 promises the right to "freedom of association". Here a parent could not challenge a teen that insisted on joining a gang or "associating" with drug dealers.
Article 17 grants children access to the mass media.
Article 24 guarantees rights to "family planning education and services".
Article 29 provides for education that respects "the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations".
All 54 articles could be dissected for hidden mines that, interpreted by globalists, contain peril for the freedom of families.
Numerous organizations have raised an alarm, including the Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the John Birch Society, the National Center for Home Education, and the Rutherford Institute.
Citizens who would defend the family have an opportunity to contact their congressmen and the White House before the final document drafted for the World Summit for Children is presented.
An effective contact could include a simple statement that the traditional family must be the model and context for assisting children the world over. Request that the US insert into the Summit document a responsibility for governments and NGOs to foster social and political mechanisms that promote the traditional family.
Ask that the document also agree that national sovereignty is the best mediator between families and international institutions.
Finally request that your congressman advise you of his efforts to defeat all attempts to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As this issue of Voices goes to print the UN is concluding regional meetings in preparation for the Summit in September. The meeting was attended by delegates from 52 European and Central Asian countries as well as the Holy See.
A UNICEF study released May 16 at a regional conference in Berlin says "60% of children in Europe and Central Asia live in homes where violence is common and many feel unsafe in their neighborhoods, particularly in Eastern Europe".
There are no corroborating studies - this is a UNICEF statistic. It is not difficult to discern that the stage and the media are being set to conclude that families are failing and the state - the "global village" can do it better. Look for more statistics to hit the airwaves between now and the World Summit for Children.
Across several time zones on the same day another regional meeting was held in Beijing, the Ministerial Consultation in East Asia and the Pacific on Shaping the Future for Children.
Their "Beijing Declaration" will be presented to the UN General Assembly special session, World Summit for Children. It is intended to "serve as a guideline for children's development" and it calls for the "establishment of sustainable solutions to improve the situation for children". "Sustainable solutions" is the catch phrase for population control.
In the last analysis, the "holistic" fervor of the multiple UN conferences over the last decade is summed up in the phrase "sustainable development".
Sustainable development is the new ideology that incorporates Gnosticism, Marxism and what theologian Monsignor Michel Schooyans calls "generic humanity". [Editor's note -Monsignor Schooyans writes on bio-ethics issues for Vinculum, a publication affiliated with the Pontifical Council for the Family. Vinculum's web address is www.vinculum-news.com.]
This generic humanity must be managed like a herd of cattle - properly fed, culled, inoculated and corralled in order to prevent "ecological degradation".
Generic humanity, stripped of the innate dignity due to an Imago Dei, must be "educated" for a smoothly humming global economy and social trained in the finer points of "planetary citizenship". The individual must be conditioned to view the family as an outdated social construct that no longer serves "liberated" man, woman and child.
In the forward to Monsignor Schooyan's book, The Gospel Confronting World Disorder, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote of the "New World Order increasing and characteristically relate[d] to the UN and its international conferences".
Cardinal Ratzinger says starkly, "we reach the point where the Christian - not only but especially him - is obliged to resist".
Mary Jo Anderson, a member of the Voices editorial board, expects to attend the June "prepcom" meeting she discusses in this essay. Her articles on recent UN meetings have appeared in Voices, and she also writes regularly for Crisis magazine. Mrs. Anderson lives in Orlando, Florida.
United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Beijing Platform for Action, March 2,2005
**Women for Faith & Family operates solely on your generous donations!
WFF is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.
Voices copyright © 1999-Present
Women for Faith & Family. All rights reserved. PERMISSION GUIDELINES All material on this web site is copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced without prior written permission from Women for Faith & Family,except as specified below. Personal use Quotations Attribution Link to Women for Faith & Family web site. Back to top -- Home -- Back to the Table of Contents
Permission is granted to download and/or print out articles for personal use only.
Brief quotations (ca 500 words) may be made from the material on this site, in accordance with the “fair use” provisions of copyright law, without prior permission. For these quotations proper attribution must be made of author and WFF + URL (i.e., “Women for Faith & Family www.wf-f.org.)
Generally, all signed articles or graphics must also have the permission of the author. If a text does not have an author byline, Women for Faith & Family should be listed as the author. For example: Women for Faith & Family (St Louis: Women for Faith & Family, 2005 + URL)
Other web sites are welcome to establish links to www.wf-f.org or to individual pages within our site.
Women for Faith & Family
PO Box 300411
St. Louis, MO 63130
314-863-8385 Phone -- 314-863-5858 Fax -- Email
Voices copyright © 1999-Present Women for Faith & Family. All rights reserved.
All material on this web site is copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced without prior written permission from Women for Faith & Family,except as specified below.
Link to Women for Faith & Family web site.
Back to top -- Home -- Back to the Table of Contents